While travelling the world for several months it’s nice to discover little niche places that make you feel — if not at home — then at least in the midst of comfortable, pleasant and accommodating surroundings. And gratefully I made such a discovery during my recent weeks in Chiang Mai: my favorite soi — Soi 6 CHAREONPRATHET.
Conveniently located just a long block north of the Night Bazaar intersection of Chang Klan and Loi Khor (1 block south of Burger King, enter the soi on the east side of Chang Klan at the overhead “Kalare Food Center” sign), I could also consider this my “Soi of Favorites” since it hosts:
1. My Favorite Chiang Mai Restaurant — LE-SPICE
As you enter the soi from the night bazzar (Chang Klan Road) you’ll find this Thai/Indian/Arabic/Seafood mis-named, door-less dinery less than 2 blocks in, on the right.
For an appetizer, try the succulent hummus with naan — choose between butter, onion, cheese or garlic — for 100THB.
On many hungrier evenings I enjoyed the chicken tikka (120THB).
The friendly but efficient staff includes Myanmar young people. Free use of 2 Internet computers in the dining area while you wait — which for me was always quite brief — and a toilet upstairs. (31 Charoenprathet 6 Rd., T. Changklan, A.Muang, Chiang Mai; 11a-11p email: Vichan_Areeya@hotmail.com. Tel: 0-5323-4962)
TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR WITH THIS “FAVORITE SOI” SLIDESHOW
2. My Favorite Internet “Cafe” — INTERNET WORLD
Continue down the soi another minute or two, passing numerous massage parlors and various shops until finding Internet World on your left (and perhaps me inside!!).
This frill-less, 8-computer shop offered the most consistent, fast connection I experienced in my visits to several such stores on the city’s east side. (30THB first hour, 20THB second hour)
In addition to enjoying excellent connections, save money on services…have the shop copy your photos for just 50THB per CD, 100THB per DVD (less than half what I was quoted along Loi Kroh). And only 10THB per printed page.
The seemingly distant employee speaks reasonable English and provides excellent quick services.
3. My Favorite Pharmacy — TOR CHAROEN BHAESAJ
Any pharmacy that can help me nearly painlessly pass a much-too-large kidney stone quickly endears itself to me! But that’s only one reason this pharmacy / convenient store makes my “fav” list. Actually located a block north (left) of Soi 6 where the soi spills into Charoenprated St. (don’t cross any streets; just turn left at the east end of the soi), provided me on-the-spot, effective diagnosis and medications for bothersome bug bites, irritating itching, and nagging nasals.
The co-located convenience store offers snacks and coffee you can carry back into Internet World about a minute away. (46/3 Charoenprathed Chiang Mai, 50100; Tel: 053-274764
4. My Favorite Fish Spa — Heaven Hut
Admittedly the only fish spa I’ve tried, but I can’t imagine a more pleasant staff than the ladies I met at Heaven Hut, right across the street from Internet World.
As for the fish? Well, it’s a bit creepy for the first 5-10 minutes as the tiny but hyper-aggressive fish nibble away at dead skin on your legs and feet in a manner that feels like (but isn’t) ever-so-tiny electric impulses.
At 200THB for 30 minutes, including a foot scrubbing afterwords, it’s well worth experiencing the craze sweeping Chiang Mai.
(Heaven Hut Massage Spa, 089 756 6201; www.heavenhut.com; full menu of non-ichthyoid massages also available)
Although barely more than wide enough to handle parked motorbikes while a mini-van (or the occassional elephant!!) passes, Soi 6 Charoenprathet also offers a hotel…the Night Bazaar Inn (www.NightBazaarInn.com; 600 to 750THB with A/C, but breakfast additional).
And of course the adjacent outdoor Kalare Food Center provides traditional Thai foods (except for Koa Laam, sadly) should you desire a change from Le-Spice. Finally, for some fantastic etched portraits with coming-to-life, intriguing eyes check out J.Y & S.J Art to your left as you exit Le-Spice.
All this along and so near a narrow, waiting-to-be-discovered soi just off Chiang Mai’s crazy Night Bazaar scene…MY favorite, Soi 6 Chareunprathet!